|Posted on September 30, 2016 at 5:20 PM|
THERE'S MORE TO A FLEMISH THAN WEIGHT By Jim Richards
One of my pet peeves with new breeders is they think the bigger the Flemish it must be better. That is so far from the truth! Big is nice, but a long narrow 20 pounder is normally a poor breeder based on past experience. The does don't want to lift and the bucks are lazy breeders with little stamina. And those long narrow animals produce the same for generations. So many times I see people post a picture of their 3 or 4 month old not posing and give the weight and ask if it’s big enough. Until a Flemish is 14 months old I don't worry about the weight unless I’m showing it and check to make sure it meets required minimum weight for its class. There are a lot more important things I focus on.
A combination of things make up a good Flemish. To start with, bucks should have a nice, full blocky head; does more feminine with a pair of ears well held on by a thick ear base. Odd as it may seem, the ears bring the other parts of the body into harmony; you don't want them too short or too long. Balance is the key.
The shoulders should be nice and full and reasonably high to give a good start for the base of the arch. You don't want them flat on top but be slightly rounded. Bob Shaftoe once said the rise should start 2 fingers behind the shoulder blades and should increase in width as it gets higher. A nice full loin and well sprung rib helps this. Any sign off hipness indicates a weak loin.
If the rise peaks too soon it usually shows a flat spot on top of the upper hind quarters and too late it drops off making the hind quarters flat. Ideally if the rabbit is posed properly you should be able to draw a line from the highest point of the rise down to the forward portion or tips of the hind toes.
The top of the upper hind quarters should still show width and massiveness and continue in a nice rounded curve to the ground. Undercut lower hindquarters is a major fault and hard to breed out. If your rabbit possesses most of these qualities the weight will be there. The white is a 3 month old buck, already showing good rise and balance, the light gray senior doe shows good rise and massiveness.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and may not reflect the official views of Eastern States Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders Assoc. This article may not be republished without permission from the author.